N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: May 24, 1967
Discipline / contribution: plant pathology ; agriculture
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor: I present to you Thorvaldur Johnson, BSc, BSA, MSc, PhD, DSc, FAIC, FAPS, FRSC. A renowned plant pathologist he has made basic contributions to our knowledge of the genetics, physiological specialization and epidemiology of the cereal rusts. Moreover he has catalyzed international co-operation in research on these problems, which are of the first importance for agriculture on the Prairie and, indeed, wherever cereal crops are grown.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
A native Manitoban of Icelandic extraction, Thorvaldur Johnson attended High School in Saskatoon and served with the Royal Air Force during World War I. Subsequently he graduated in science and in agriculture from this University, and with a Masterâ€™s degree from the University of Minnesota. In 1925 he joined the staff of the Dominion Rust Research Laboratory at Winnipeg. There he became one of a small group of distinguished Canadian Biologists whose research established a world-wide reputation for this laboratory, now incorporated into the Canada Agriculture Research Laboratory at Winnipeg. Except for a second sojourn at the University of Minnesota, where he obtained the PhD in 1930, Dr. Johnson spent his entire professional life in Winnipeg, becoming Director of the Agricultural Research Station in 1959 and retiring in 1962 with the Gold Medal of the Public Service Institute of Canada.
In the â€˜twenties and â€˜thirties, the laboratory of Professor E.C. Stakman at the University of Minnesota was a mecca for cereal pathologists from all over the world and it was under Stakman that Dr. Johnson began his own investigations. Twenty-eight years after he obtained the PhD, Dr. Johnson won the E.C. Stakman Award established by Professor Stakmanâ€™s colleagues for meritorious original work on cereal diseases. A year later, in 1959, he received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Regents of the University of Minnesota, being cited for distinguished achievement in plant pathology and in the administration of Canadian Agricultural Research programs. Many other honours have been conferred upon him.
Since his retirement he has served as an Agricultural Advisor in Pakistan, under the Colombo Plan; he has also been actively engaged in writing for advanced text-books and review journals in his field. When he has wearied of plant pathology, he has found relaxation in gardening, art, literature and music and in writing in a humourous vein. He and Mrs. Johnson are among the kindest of men and women.
Eminent Chancellor, I present to you Thorvaldur Johnson - a man on whose mind no rust has gathered with the years - and ask that you confer on him the Degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: Michael Shaw, Head of Biology
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